Virginia Tech Hokies - A Must Win.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Virginia Tech Hokies – A Must Win.

November 1, 2018 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( On March 26, 2018, Tech Sideline reporter Ricky LaBlue wrote, “Virginia Tech football’s bowl streak seems to be safe for the foreseeable future.” Mr. LaBlue wrote those words knowing the Hokies lost several key starters to the NFL. He knew the Hokies would be fielding one of its least experienced defenses in several years. He knew the Hokies toughest games would be played in front of sellout crowds at Lane Stadium. Based on what he knew getting to 6 wins seemed like a lock.

It wasn’t what Mr. LaBlue (and the Hokie faithful) knew that makes this Saturday’s game with Boston College a must win. This season has been full of surprises. No one anticipated the Hokies 12 game schedule would be reduced to 11 games following the cancellation of the East Carolina game due to Hurricane Florence. No one knew the Old Dominion Monarchs- who lost their opening game to Liberty University by 42 points- would shock the college football world by beating the Hokies. There is no shame in losing to Notre Dame or Georgia Tech, but no one knew the defense would look so out matched in the second half of both games.

The Hokies are (1–2) at home and (4–3) for the season. Three of their last four games will be played in Lane Stadium, but there isn’t one game left on the schedule that is considered a lock. Virginia Tech faces the real possibility of not only missing the college postseason for the first time in 25 years, but finishing the season with a losing record. What happened?

Injuries and suspensions have played a part in some of defensive troubles the Hokies have experienced, but every program has to deal with those issues. The Hokies are getting manhandled in the trenches. The Tech defense is woefully undersized. This is a statement anyone who follows the Hokies could make every year, but their lack of depth has exposed this weakness and led to some awful second half performances.

I was reading the heights and weights on before writing this and had a flashback to Hokie great Corey Moore. Moore was a dominating force at defensive end. He was listed at 6’0” and 225lbs, but showed up to the NFL combine at 5’11” and just under 220lbs. I have a feeling that a lot of the Hokies’ heights and weights are inflated. The Virginia Tech defense is built for defending spread, but they play in a conference that has gotten more physical over the last 5 seasons.

The nation’s top defenses rely on depth to keep players fresh for the fourth quarter. The four defensive ends used in the Hokies’ scheme have an average height of 6’2” and a weight of 243lbs. When compared to the top teams in the country it’s obvious how undersized the Hokie defense is. By comparison the Notre Dame defensive ends check in at 6’4” and 257lbs, Clemson’s ends measure in at 6’4” and 259lbs, The Michigan ends are 6’4” and 258lbs, and the Alabama ends break the scale at 6’5” and 299lbs. None of these schools have sacrificed speed for size. They all have ferocious pass rushing ends capable of stopping the run.

The Hokie defensive ends look like prototypical NFL possession receivers. They excel in obvious passing situations, but struggle against the run. The linebacking corps could pass for an SEC secondary. The Hokies haven’t consistently stopped the run without blitzing. This puts too much pressure on their young corners. The defense can’t get bigger this year, but if size doesn’t become a priority in recruiting 6- and 7-win seasons could become the norm in Blacksburg.

Boston College will arrive at Lane Stadium Saturday confident and with a heathy AJ Dillion. They have had a lot of success running the ball against 8 men in the box. If they have early success and stay ahead of the chains the Hokies will be in trouble. I’m not saying this is a must win game, but the Hokies MUST WIN if they want to keep their bowl streak alive.

Staff Writer; Danny Cardwell

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